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Automakers and Gasoline Refiners Join EPA to Celebrate Milestone in Clean Air Program

Release Date: 01/26/2004
Contact Information:

Contact: John Millett, 202 564-7842 / millett.john@epa.gov

(01/26/2004) - EPA's program for cleaner vehicles and fuel was officially recognized today by Administrator Leavitt in Washington with a display of seventeen 2004 model-year vehicles representing the wide variety of cleaner vehicle choices on the market today. This program will guarantee Americans cleaner air for the 21st Century.

This historic program will result in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans that are 77-95 percent cleaner than today's cars and trucks. At the same time, the program will result in cleaner-burning gasoline that contains 90 percent less sulfur.

"It's a simple formula," said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. "Cleaner vehicles plus cleaner fuel equals cleaner air."

EPA regulations taking effect this year are the first to apply equally to all passenger cars and light trucks, including SUVs, and the first to treat vehicles and fuels as a system, so cleaner vehicles will have the low-sulfur fuel they need to run their cleanest. While low-sulfur fuel is essential for optimum performance in the new generation of cars, the cleaner fuel is expected to improve the emissions control performance of every vehicle on the road.

The vehicles displayed today are among the first to come to market under EPA's program, known officially as the Tier 2 Vehicle and Gasoline Sulfur Rulemaking. It is the result of a groundbreaking cooperative effort among EPA, the auto industry, the oil industry, states, environmental and public health groups, and others. The rulemaking, finalized in December 1999, calls for 25 percent of all cars and light trucks sold in 2004 to meet the new standards.

Auto officials said they expect to significantly exceed program requirements, with as much as 35 percent of the 2004 model-year fleet meeting the new cleaner standards. All cars, SUVs and trucks must meet the new standards by 2009. Oil refiners are also making large investments, and several refiners have introduced cleaner gasoline earlier than required. Ninety percent of the nation's gasoline supply will be low-sulfur by 2007.

"I am impressed with the way industry stepped up to the challenge of meeting these stringent new standards," Leavitt said. "Together, the auto and oil industries are not only meeting deadlines, they're beating them."

The changes to both vehicles and gasoline will be essentially transparent to consumers. Performance and product selection of vehicles and fuels will not change. The very large health and environmental benefits of the program are estimated to total more than $25 billion at a cost to consumers of between only $70-250 per vehicle and less than 2 cents per gallon of gasoline.

Consumers can research which cars, SUVs and trucks meet the new cleaner standards on EPA's "Green Vehicle Guide" Web site http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles . For more information on the Tier 2 Vehicle and Gasoline Sulfur Program visit http://www.epa.gov/tier2 .


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